Kristof on talent vs. opportunity


Have you caught the recent PBS showing of Half the Sky, a documentary based on the same-titled book about the oppression of women around the globe? Worthy of your time. The previous link will also point you to the book by Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn. Last night, I caught the portion about female genital mutilation in Somaliland, caste-based forced prostitution in India, and struggles in Kenya.

Though there are many movings scenes, the quote that stands out most to me is from Kristof,

In this world, talent is universal, but opportunity is not.

Good reminder. We often believe in a just world, level playing field mentality. You get ahead because of hard work. You don’t get ahead? You didn’t want it bad enough. The problem with this is that the field of life isn’t level. You may be the brightest in the class, but if your parents can’t afford to pay your school bill, you won’t be able to graduate. If you don’t graduate, you can’t get the same kind of jobs, etc.

Rather than wring our hands over the unfairness, we ought to consider what boost we have received at birth and what we will do with our extra talents (to use the word from the biblical parable).

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